USSEC’s Blue Paper Forum Unites India’s Thinking on Country’s Aquaculture Future

The Indian aquaculture industry designated USSEC’s Blue Paper Forum (BPF) – “India Aquaculture Pathfinder” a success both in terms of output and outcome, calling it a signature event.
Attendees were roughly divided 50/50 between government and private industry.  Delegates from 31 government institutes and 64 private industry firms participated, representing 18 Indian provinces.

A panel at the BPF
A panel at the BPF

About 120 pre-collected national aquaculture issues were tabulated and classified into 22 subjects.  The subjects were discussed on the first day of the BPF and were narrowed to 15.  Of these, three aspects were particularly thought to drive significant growth in the industry and were discussed at length, including species diversification; post harvest and value addition; and marketing, market promotion, consumption, development and awareness creation.  The other twelve topics included:  genetics and breeding; governance issues (policy, data, institutions and legal issues); farming systems and practices; feed, feed supplements and additives; research and development and technology transfer; information and communications technology (ICT); standards, certification and food safety; aquatic health management; and finance and insurance.
USSEC Director International Program Strategy & Research / Regional Director – Asian Subcontinent Drew Klein addressed the gathering via Skype from the U.S to restate USSEC’s focus in the Indian aquaculture arena.  He told the audience about USSEC’s global aquaculture stature and strategy and about the work carried out in different countries, species, water systems and market situations.  Dr. Klein mentioned that the Indian industry would stand to benefit from USSEC’s global experiences while examining BPF outcomes and integrate them into the five-year strategy that is being developed.
USSEC India’s Director for Animal, Aquaculture and Soymeal program, P.E. Vijay Anand states, “What was unique with the design of this event was that we moved away from ‘I Preach, You Listen’ mode, held 212 diverse national participants together for two days and got them to buy into ideas that will form the Blue Paper.  [USSEC] already has a well laid-out aquaculture plan that is used for writing our [Unified Export Strategies] or activities that bring in deliverables but what was intended through the BPF was to additionally fuel the aquaculture plan with supportive voices of all stakeholders.  This should make implementation much easier with their continued participation.”
Dr. Anand and USSEC India Aquaculture Consultant R. Umakanth identified certain areas in the industry that were slowing down progress.  One idea inserted into the BPF was to have the industry and government reiterate and accept these aspects as true national constraints, develop plans to address them and move forward.  Dr. Anand continued, “I’m sure the industry has worn its thinking caps and action boots as a result of BPF for the path finding mission.